A repeated message: so much of what we do, or don’t do, is driven by our fears, rather than desires.
And hence the need to revisit my fears again and again. I want to keep figuring out the patterns and the root causes so that I may eliminate the fears that dictate my choices. I want my decisions to be based on a place of love, not fear. So here’s one I still need to overcome.
This Friday night, amidst deafening music and a crowd in search of something to fill their emptiness, I allowed myself to reminiscence in my previous relationships. Somewhere down memory lane, I discovered a common theme in these ‘failed’ relationships*. An all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment. Being disappointed by someone close is a difficult emotion to swallow. Being disappointed repeatedly, then slowly starts to create a black-hole that can’t be filled, and it sucks the hope and trust out of a relationship. Inevitably, someone who constantly disappoints, becomes draining to deal with. I got myself stuck in cycles of false-hope, disappointment, burying emotions, and hoping for change, which is of course, false-hope. And in-between these spirals, I developed a fear for that heavy hollowness which drowned out my positivity.
That fear, drove me to take control as much as I can. That fear, took away the trust I had in my ex-boyfriends. I’m not talking about trust in the fidelity sense. I’m talking about the trust that they will make good decisions for the relationship. The trust that they will think enough, see, observe and reflect enough, and most importantly, do enough.
As much as I could, I lowered my expectations so as to avoid disappointment. I convinced myself I didn’t need someone to look out for me, I didn’t need anyone to lean on, and I didn’t even want these things. And where I couldn’t give up what I wanted, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I learnt to
demand suggest things to do, to ask for what I wanted, and withdrew myself when I can foresee cloudy-with-a-chance-of-disappointment. If I wanted to do something for my birthday, I asked that day to be kept free for me – a month before the actual day to avoid being disappointed. I learnt to line up options that were all acceptable. I learnt to make backup plans in case of a let-down. I learnt to operate out of fear of disappointment, never realising how this lack of trust was probably more damaging and toxic than anything they could have done forgotten to do.
Now, I can easily psycho-analyse this fear to my childhood and upbringing. How disappointed I had been when I didn’t have my parents to emotionally be there for me to lean on. How their liberal parenting actually left me feeling stranded and alone to make decisions I was not ready to make for my young self. How I had learnt to not depend on them for emotional support, how I was forced to be strong, how desperate I felt to have to take care of myself and then some.
But I am not going to play that game. I believe parents can only be responsible for so long – and they did their best. I am very lucky to have parents that just want me to be happy, and I love them for all that they are. As adults we are responsible to recondition whatever we’ve received at a young age, and use that as the starting point for growth. So regardless of how it happened, this is where I am. I still dread and fear being disappointed.
I want to let that go. I want to surrender myself and be vulnerable. I want to have hope in the people I choose to be close with. I want to trust that they will make good decisions.
Perhaps this is why ‘The Shack’ appealed to me so much. As foreign as Christianity is to me, that faith, in how everything will be taken care of by the divine; that unquestionable trust in how everything happens for a reason; THAT, is where I want to be. Not just with life, but with people. It is easy to be cynical and say “the only thing you can trust in is that people can’t be trusted”. Yet I don’t want easy. I want to make my heart available, I want to be open to disappointment.
I know I’ve been made resilient for a reason. I refuse to let this fear of disappointment take away the joy of complete trust. I refuse to remain jaded. So I surrender my heart once again. This time, I know I’ll be taken care of.
*‘failed’ relationships, only in the sense that they didn’t work out. I would’t normally label my past relationships because I’ve grown and learnt so much from all of them. I’m very grateful to have been through them, and I will not be the person I am today without my experiences. Everything was beautiful.
Growing up, I was a very picky and annoyingly fussy eater. I had many aversions, the most severe of which was towards ginger. Now that posed a lot of problems for me as an Asian kid… Especially when we have seafood. Practically EVERY SINGLE SEAFOOD DISH in Chinese food has ginger in it.
Mum used to try to hide it, take the ginger out before putting it on the table. But she never fooled me! Nop. Even if that one tiny slice of ginger is invisible, it had done its damage to the dish and now “ruined” in my stubborn little mind. I would spit the food out and outright refuse to take another bite of the dish… Oh the wonderful seafood I must have missed out on!
This ‘sensitivity’ continued for years, decades, even after I’ve grown to love garlic and onion and all the other things I used to avoid as a kid. I still frowned at the sight of ginger slices in any dish and sneered upon all ginger-flavoured foods including ginger beer and gingerbread. The thought of having to put ginger in my own cooking was always a struggle… Until recently.
For some strange unknown reason, 2014 keeps bringing breakthroughs. One day, I just decided I’m no longer gonna let this ginger aversion define me. I began using ginger in my soups, roasts and stir-fries. I even put sliced ginger in my thermos drink bottle (along with goji, red dates and ginseng). Mum has been nagging me for years on the basis of chinese medicine, how ginger warms the body, is great for neutralising the ‘cold’ in our energy system etc etc. Well, mum, I’m gonna conduct an experiment on myself to see if it’s true. I will drink this concoction of “things that are good for you” daily and put ginger in as many dishes as realistic… And we shall wait and see if my circulation magically improves!
Even if nothing happens… I’m kinda just proud to have eliminated a daunting fear that’s terrorised my childhood dining experience. Liberating.
And suddenly our trio’s down to two.
Perhaps it really is time to wake up and embrace change.
“Ready” will never come. Just a matter of committing to the choices we make.
Be brave. Face fears!
[Day 51] the sister we never had has moved out…